Grand National

Grand National: attracted two more entries in 2013 compared to 2012

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Beauchene and Own
head 84 for National

THE John Smith's Grand National has attracted 84 entries for the 2013 edition headed by the Willie Mullins-trained pair On His Own and Prince De Beauchene.

Both owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie, On His Own and Prince De Beauchene are 16-1 joint-favourites for the race with Betfred.

Neptune Collonges triumphed by a nose in last year's race and has since headed into retirement but Sunnyhillboy, Seabass and Cappa Bleu - second, third and fourth in the 2012 edition - are back again.

Welsh National second Teaforthree, Imperial Commander, Ballabriggs and Oscar Time also feature in the entries.

Cappa Bleu's trainer Evan Williams believes the experience gained by his runner in last year's race will benefit him this time around.

He said: "He is a very unexposed horse and his inexperience probably caught him out last year, but hopefully he will benefit from that this time around.

"Everything has been very good with him since his comeback at Carlisle [second of five in November] and, given the way the weather has been, I am delighted we managed to get the run into him when we did.

evan williams trainer

Evan Williams: trains Cappa Bleu

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  

"Since he ran, it has been very wet and very heavy ground doesn't suit him. When he encountered that for the first time in the Welsh National in 2011, it took me a long time to get him back after that.

"He holds entries this weekend but he will be entered everywhere as I am very keen to get another run or two into him before Aintree. I will give him every opportunity to run but, as I have said all season, if the ground is very heavy, he won't run."

This year's National will be run over 4m3½f with the start moved closer to the first fence. Fences will also contain a soft core. The £975,000 contest is to be run under John Smith's sponsorship for the last time.

Full list of entries to follow. . .

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.